Caracas: President Hugo Chavez has unveiled a massive subsidy for poor families that will cost Venezuela USD 2.3 billion just in 2012, when he will seek reelection for a third six-year term.

The social assistance funds announced on Friday include allotments of USD 100 a month for every pregnant woman, and payments to poor families of USD 100 a month per minor child, for up to three children.

People who are caring for handicapped children will get the equivalent of USD 140 a month regardless of the child's age, Chavez said.

The subsidy is significant in terms of average income in Venezuela, where USD 100 is about one-third of a minimum-wage worker's monthly salary.

"I started looking at statistics again, at all the numbers," the president said, promising a "great mission" to fight extreme poverty "which at times is close to misery."

"Do you think a mission like this would happen in a capitalist society? It would not be possible," argued Chavez, a leftist ex paratrooper who has been in power in this country of 28 million people since 1999.

A staunch critic of the United States, Chavez is the key political and economic ally of Cuba, the Americas' only one-party communist regime. He also has launched economic support programs for sympathetic governments across Latin America.

(Agencies)